Adelaide Biennale 2024: Showcasing Indigenous Australian Art in a Captivating New Light

The Adelaide Biennale i2024 and Sydney Biennale are putting a spotlight on the vibrant world of Indigenous Australian art. Through works that meld tradition with contemporary themes, these events highlight the power and significance of Indigenous perspectives in the art world.

Ten Thousand Suns: A Celebration of Indigenous Art

At the 2024 Sydney Biennale, Tony Albert takes center stage with his curatorial project, Ten Thousand Suns. As the inaugural First Nations curatorial fellow, Albert works with 14 Indigenous artists from around the world to bring their unique visions to life. Notably, Dylan Mooney’s 13-meter mural at White Bay power station celebrates the late queer First Nations dancer and activist Malcolm Cole.

Albert’s Artistic Journey

Tony Albert is known for his humorous and thought-provoking art that builds on a collection of Aboriginal kitsch he has amassed over the years. In his piece, The Garden, Albert combines the flora of early modernist Margaret Preston with resin boomerangs and maps of Australia. His series Brothers (2013) features photographs of young Black men proudly displaying target symbols on their chests, responding to a 2012 police shooting incident.

Brisbane’s ProppaNow Collective

In the early 2000s, Albert joined ProppaNow, a collective aiming to counter the invisibility of urban Black artists. Twenty years later, city-based artists such as Darrell Sibosado, Kaylene Whiskey, and Megan Cope are narrowing the gap between urban and rural Indigenous art.

Exploring Indigenous Heritage

At UNSW Galleries, Megan Cope delves into her Quandamooka heritage, reimagining the Queensland coastline in her ravishing blue “maps.” Kaylene Whiskey presents “Kaylene TV,” a walk-in “television set” blending dot iconography with western pop culture. Whiskey’s work features superheroes alongside iconic pop stars like Dolly Parton and David Bowie.

Darrell Sibosado’s Neon Narratives

Darrell Sibosado, a Bard/Noongar man, uses white neon tubes to tell stories of his heritage. He brings his own avant-garde work to life on the Dampier Peninsula, capturing the iridescence of mother-of-pearl in his art.

Achievements and Recognition

ProppaNow recently won the US$25,000 Jane Lombard Prize for Art and Social Justice, allowing them to showcase their work internationally. Urban Indigenous artists have gained wider representation, challenging the dominance of white perspectives in the art world.

These biennales demonstrate the richness and depth of Indigenous art, offering a platform for contemporary artists to showcase their unique perspectives and heritage. As the events unfold, attendees can expect to be moved by the artistry and resilience of Indigenous creators.

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